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Sunday, November 22, 1998
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Iraq rejects UN weapons inspectors’ request
DUBAI, Nov 21 — Iraq has firmly rejected requests by UN weapons inspectors to handover documents on its chemical, biological and ballistic weapons systems.

Annan’s plea on oil-for-food programme
UNITED NATIONS, Nov 21— UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended the extension of the oil-for-food programme for Iraq for another six months.

‘LTTE getting funds from SA groups’
COLOMBO, Nov 21 — Funds raised for the LTTE in South Africa are being channelled by the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation in Durban Via Australia, the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister claimed.

QABATIEH: Jamal Abu Rub (left) is greeted by his mother as another well-wisher fires a gun in the air behind them following his release from an Israeli prison in the West Bank town of Qabatieh on Friday. AP/PTI

MQM members held
Karachi raids

KARACHI, Nov 21 — The armed police today arrested several members of an ethnic party, hours after the Pakistan Prime Minister suspended civil rights in Sindh province and ordered the army to curb violence in Karachi, its troubled main city.

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State’s failure drives Russians to despair
VOLGOGRAD: Yura Plotnikov, aged 39 and a seller of second-hand bicycle parts, avoids despair by refusing to think about the future in any detail. But unlike many of his neighbouring traders on the fringes of Volgograd’s open-air flea market, his equanimity is not supported by bootleg vodka.

Some Republicans oppose impeachment
WASHINGTON, Nov 21 — Breaking from their solidly pro-impeachment counterparts on the House judiciary committee, two Republican Congressmen said they would vote against impeaching US President Bill Clinton and believe more Republican House colleagues would join them.

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Iraq rejects UN weapons inspectors’ request

DUBAI, Nov 21 (PTI) — Iraq has firmly rejected requests by UN weapons inspectors to handover documents on its chemical, biological and ballistic weapons systems but President Bill Clinton responded cautiously saying it was important not to overreact to Iraqi objections.

With US and British forces still within striking distance, Baghdad rejected all but two categories of documents requested by Richard Butler, Chairman of Unscom, saying the information never existed or was no longer available.

Iraqi Foreign Ministry Under-Secretary Riyadh Al-Qaysi said Butler had overstepped his authority and called the requests “provocative rather than professional”.

Iraq also accused Butler of acting on behalf of the USA in its drive to disarm Iraq. “The u s administration these days, is trying, in vain to boost the fortunes of Unscom whose corruption has been revealed to the world community,” the official Ath-Thawra newspaper said.

One document being sought by UN inspectors purportedly showed Iraq used fewer pieces of ordinance capable of carrying chemical and biological agents during its 1980-88 war with Iran than previously declared, raising questions about how many remain.

Al-Qaysi said Butler’s requests fell into two categories. “The first category includes alleged documents which do not exist, and the second includes repetition of previous requests in respect of which we had submitted all available and true clarifications,” he said.

It was Iraq’s first reaction to such requests since UN weapons inspectors returned to Baghdad this week after Iraq, under threat of military action by the USA and Britain, said it was resuming cooperation with UN teams.

“I think it’s important that we not overreact here on the first day. I want to make sure I know exactly what the facts are,” Clinton said at a joint news conference with South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung in Seoul where the US President is on a state visit as part of his five-day Asia trip.

“I hope that Iraq would comply as it said it would in the letters (to the United Nations) just a few days ago with letter and spirit of the UN resolutions and give them (inspectors) the information they seek,” Clinton said.

Butler also rejected Iraqi arguments for withholding key documents that could help UN experts account for Baghdad’s weapons of mass destruction programmes.

Butler wrote to UN Security Council President Peter Burleigh yesterday, rebutting, point by point letters from Al-Qaysi received earlier in the day.

Butler notably insisted on access to key Iraqi government departments as “the most effective and least controversial way of the commission obtaining necessary evidence for accounting of Iraq’s prohibited weapons programmes”.Top

 

Annan’s plea on oil-for-food programme

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 21 (PTI) — UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended the extension of the oil-for-food programme for Iraq for another six months.

In his latest report to the Security Council, Mr Annan said that due to falling oil prices, only $1.98 billion were available for the programme, far short of the $ 3.1 billion target.

If the enhanced distribution plan had been fully implemented, further deterioration of the humanitarian situation might have been averted, he said.

The report also pointed out that the Iraqi oil industry was in a “lamentable state” and the authorised sum of $ 300 million for spare parts and equipment to repair the country’s deteriorating oil infrastructure was “sufficient only for the most essential and urgent needs”.

Iraq, which had demanded only two month’s extension, has charged the USA and Britain with blocking contracts for the supply of spare parts without which it cannot meet the goals of export set by the Security Council.Top

 

MQM members held in Karachi raids

KARACHI, Nov 21 (AP) — The armed police today arrested several members of an ethnic party, hours after the Pakistan Prime Minister, Mr Nawaz Sharif suspended civil rights in Sindh province and ordered the army to curb violence in Karachi, its troubled main city.

In an overnight raid, the police surrounded a hostel run by the ethnic Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) in Karachi’s Azizabad neighbourhood and arrested several of its members, including two lawmakers of the Sindh provincial Assembly.

The raid came just hours after Mr Sharif ordered the army to help curb violence in the southern province. He also ordered the setting up of military courts in Karachi to try “terrorists and criminals”.

The party, formerly known as the Mohajir Quami Movement, has controlled the city for more than a decade.

“They (police) barraged into the hostel late in the night and started beating our people,” Mr Hasan Musana, an MQM spokesman, told the Associated Press.

Mr Sharif has accused the MQM of most of the bloodletting, and holds it responsible for the murder of former Governor Hakim Said.

The MQM denies the charge and blames Mr Sharif for the “state-sponsored violence” against its members.

The MQM is fighting with its splinter faction, the MQM Haqiqi. Hundreds of persons have died in fights between these two groups in recent months.

The human rights groups and Opposition parties yesterday criticised the decision to suspend civil rights and call the army to help the government.

“It is a mini-martial law. The government has no justification in taking such a harsh step,” said Senator Iqbal Haider of the Pakistan Peoples’ Party.

But Mr Sharif said the move is in the interest of the city and the country.

“We want to get Karachi out of this hell,” he said.

He added that military courts were needed in Sindh because “the terrorists threatened witnesses, judges and their families” and had paralysed the judicial system.

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani Opposition, including the MQM, has unanimously condemned the Nawaz Sharif government’s decision to put Sindh province under a virtual army rule.

“The government has once against launched an aggression against the people of Sindh,” said MQM chief Altaf Hussain from London, and warned that the move would have “grave consequences for the unity and solidarity of the country”.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chief Benazir Bhutto, condemning the step, said, “The handing over of the parts of Sindh to the military, the setting up of special military courts and the suspension of the writ of superior judiciary marks the complete erosion of civil authority and constitutional rule in the federation which began with Mr Nawaz Sharif’s coming into power through presidential intrigue on November 4, 1996.” Top

 

LTTE getting funds from SA groups’

COLOMBO, Nov 21 (UNI) — Funds raised for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in South Africa are being channelled by the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) in Durban Via Australia, the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, Mr Lakshman Kadirgamar, claimed.

Mr Kadirgamar, who is currently on an official visit to South Africa, disclosed this in Pretoria at the end of his four-day visit that the People Against Sri Lankan Oppression (PASLO) group had indeed collected large sums of money which were channelled through Australia.

Mr Kadirgamar, during bilateral talks with his South African counterpart had already drawn attention and expressed Sri Lanka’s concern about a well-known front organisation involved in LTTE-fund raising.

The funds raised on behalf of the LTTE by numerous such front organisations that masquerade as religious, cultural, humanitarian and human rights bodies throughout the world, including in South Africa, were going directly to LTTE’s war chest. This was a chief contributory factor in prolonging the military conflict in Sri Lanka despite viable political proposals for devolution of power that were acceptable to all other Tamil groups, the Foreign Minister said.

Mr Kadirgamar said he was dismayed by the fact that many of the Indian Tamil groups in South Africa who carried a brief for the LTTE seemed to be totally misinformed about the actual situation in Sri Lanka at present and were using slogans which might have been relevant 10 years ago.

He said he had received firm assurance from South Africa that the LTTE would never be allowed to open an office on its soil and that the government was in the process of making intensive investigations into the activities of the LTTE in that country.Top

 

State’s failure drives Russians to despair
From Tom Whitehouse

VOLGOGRAD: Yura Plotnikov, aged 39 and a seller of second-hand bicycle parts, avoids despair by refusing to think about the future in any detail. But unlike many of his neighbouring traders on the fringes of Volgograd’s open-air flea market, his equanimity is not supported by bootleg vodka.

“I’m fine. I don’t need to drink. I earn about 100 roubles ($ 6) a day,” he says. “It’s a lot better than working in a dead factory and not being paid at all.’’

Mr Plotnikov is not fine. Few Russians are. His wife, two teenage sons and retired parents live in dilapidated concrete housing blocks on porridge, potatoes, cabbage and tea. They are all gaunt and grey. The children are doing well enough at school to qualify for university, but unless he can find 625 a year for fees their education will soon finish. Mr Plotnikov says he is saving “bit by bit”.

Demand for bicycle parts has fallen with the onset of winter, so he has had to diversify. Laid out on a sheet in the snow next to a bicycle pump are three heaters, several doorknobs and transformers, bought from friends who steal them in lieu of wages from the factories where they work. He wants 45 roubles for a round metal clock which began life in a military helicopter dashboard.

“I will try to earn more money,” he says, knowing this is nearly impossible.

So why does he say and mean it? He is not a shoulder-shrugging optimist and is certainly not indifferent to his children’s future. But without refusing to acknowledge that they face a hand-to-mouth existence like his own, he cannot maintain his dignity.

His wife, a nurse, finds the best way to control her anger is to keep busy at work and at home, and to talk rarely.

“I have not been paid in three months. We live wonderfully,” she says abruptly.

The Plotnikovs have so far resisted the lure of crime and alcoholism — two common Russian responses to the disappearance of jobs, a varied diet, holidays, free education and health care. Instead they appeal to the mutual support of family and friends. As the post-Soviet state undergoes involuntary privatisation, pre-Soviet traditions of collective self-help are revived.

Mr Plotnikov’s 20-year-old Soviet racing bike is a crucial lifeline. To save money on bus fares he cycles to and from work through the ice and snow.

Dinners are small, quiet and brief. His two sons then do their homework or go to visit their grandparents’ nearby flat with their mother. Here only the fridge’s death rattle drowns out game shows and Soviet-era cartoons on the black and white television which is rarely turned off.

Since his retirement from a local metal factory 10 years ago, grandfather Plotnikov, 71, has seen his pension dwindle in value to the point where it is almost worthless. Interrupted by his wife’s recital of housekeeping statistics — “Macaroni was 2 roubles a kilo. Now it is 9. Bones for soup are 15 roubles’’ — he speaks slightly incoherently, betraying neither anger, hope nor fear.

“I voted for Mr Yeltsin in 1991. He’s now too ill. We can’t go back. The factories don’t work. I would like my grandchildren to live well.’’

His son has stayed home for some solitude. He listens to 1980s Soviet pop in the kitchen on an old ghetto-blaster which needs regular repair. It reminds him of more hopeful times.

“Back then, when Mr Gorbachev came to power, it looked like things might change. But nothing came of it.’’ He answers questions curtly but not rudely.

“My cigarettes cost 2 roubles a packet (12 cents). I smoke a packet a day. We call them contraceptives because they’re probably bad enough to stop you having children.’’

“I last had a holiday in 1993. I stayed at home. The last time my wife and I went outside Russia was in 1990. We went to Georgia.’’

— The Guardian, London
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Some Republicans oppose impeachment

WASHINGTON, Nov 21 (AP) — Breaking from their solidly pro-impeachment counterparts on the House judiciary committee, two Republican Congressmen said they would vote against impeaching US President Bill Clinton and believe more Republican House colleagues would join them.

If I’m correct, the votes aren’t there,’’ said Republican John Edward Porter, adding yesterday that he supported a censure vote as an alternative punishment. Mr Porter is not a member of the judiciary committee conducting the impeachment inquiry.

Lawmakers began thinking about an impeachment endgame that is likely to play out next month as the committee made plans to delve into possible obstruction in the case of Ms Kathleen Willey an ex-White House aide who says Mr Clinton groped her. The panel scheduled depositions next week for two witnesses in the matter.

The effort to look beyond the Monica Lewinsky scandal to other issues comes as the Republican majority on the judiciary panel continues to search for evidence that might change the political landscape against Mr Clinton. All 21 Republicans on the 37-member committee have demonstrated a united, pro-impeachment view, both in hearings and in comments to the media.

But Mr Porter estimated that as many as 50 Republicans in the House might not support impeachment if it reached the floor. Another anti-impeachment Republican lawmaker, Mr Peter King of New York, put the number at 15 to 40.

Other Republicans who have been quoted in news stories in opposition to impeachment include Republicans Christopher Shays of Connecticut and Jack Quinn of New York. Republicans have only a 228-206 margin in the House, with one Independent.

Mr King, who also favours censure, said any move to stop impeachment before it reached a floor vote would have to come from incoming House Speaker Bob Livingston

“How we get there I’m going to leave up to Bob or a designee of Bob,’’ Mr King said. Livingston has said only that he wants the inquiry to be finished by year end.

Mr King and Mr Porter, both Republican moderates, said they didn’t intend to rally up support for their position. The worst thing would be for the committee to offer a resolution of impeachment and it fails (in the full House). Then the President would go off scot-free,” Mr Porter said.

With polls showing a large majority of the public opposed to impeachment, the White House is content for the time being to wait for an overture to put the issue to rest short of a vote to remove Mr Clinton from office. Top

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Global Monitor
  Russian Deputy assassinated
MOSCOW: A Deputy in Russia’s state Duma Lower House of Parliament was assassinated on Friday, Itar-Tass news agency reported. Galina Starovitova, an independent member of Parliament, was murdered in St Petersburg, Russia’s second city, the agency said, citing law enforcement sources. — Reuters

Man eats ear
COLOMBO: A Sri Lankan man has bitten off an ear of his brother-in-law saying he could eat human flesh because he was used to enjoying beef, a press report here said. The Sinhalese-language Divaina newspaper said the man from Veyangoda, 40 km north-east of here, attacked his relative almost re-enacting the world boxing heavy weight bout of June, 1997, when Mike Tyson bit a piece off an ear of Evander Holyfield. — AFP

70 women held
KATHMANDU: At least 70 extreme Left Maoist women activists who were planning a protest were arrested in the Nepalese capital on Friday. The arrested Maoist women activists had planned to demonstrate on the streets of the Nepalese Capital to appeal to the public to support the third national conference of the All- Nepal Women’s Association (ANWA) beginning on Saturday. — AFP

3 die in quakes
BEIJING: At least three persons died and more than 1,200 were injured after two powerful earthquakes rocked China’s southwestern province this week, anti-disaster officials said on Saturday. The earthquakes, one of which measured 6.2 on the Richter scale, jolted the border of the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces on Thursday evening, leaving tens of thousands homeless. — Reuters

Kidney stones
KARACHI: The Sind Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) has introduced a new technique for the removal of kidney stones, which is safe and patients recover quickly. This was stated by the SIUT director, Dr Adib Rizvi, at the first session of the third international symposium of the SIUT, which began here. — ANI

Pak violence
ISLAMABAD: Seven persons, including a police constable were killed in a gunfight between the police and bandits in the city of Faisalabad in Pakistan’s central province of Punjab, it was reported today. The shootout took place yesterday when the police chased four bandits as they fled after robbing a money changer and killing two guards in the industrial city, the report in the news daily said. — AFP

N-Korean provocations
SEOUL: South Korea on Saturday asked North Korea to immediately halt all provocative acts after a suspected North Korean spy ship entered southern waters, the Defence Ministry said. “We demand North Korea to stop immediately its reckless acts of provocation that violate the joint armistice agreement,” a ministry statement said. The two Koreas remain technically at war since a 1950-53 conflict ended in an armistice rather than a peace agreement. — Reuters

Somalian crisis
UNITED NATIONS: Warning of a “looming humanitarian crisis”, a United Nations report has said that hundreds of thousands of Somalis have started migrating in search of food. The World Food Programme (WFP) report said that some 7,00.000 Somalis were facing imminent food shortages with some 3,00,000 of them in the central part of the country being “most at risk”. — PTI

5 militants killed
COLOMBO: Five Tamil tiger militants were killed and one soldier was injured while three terrorist bunkers were completely damaged during anti-militancy operations conducted by government troops in Sri Lanka’s embattled North-East during the past 48 hours, the operational headquarters of the Ministry of Defence said on Saturday. — UNI

Scientologists
BONN: Germany has said it will continue its surveillance of the Church of Scientology for possible anti-constitutional activities. The surveillance began a year ago, causing protest from the organisation whose members include some Hollywood stars such as John Travolta. — ReutersTop

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